What we DON'T need
A lot of folks have chimed in with things that developers need. I think there's also some value in discussing what we DON'T need, because as we all know, design is all about trade-offs.
On the hardware side, there have been lots of comments already about needing more pixels on the screen, more RAM and maybe at least options for more CPU.
Hardware that I think most developers would be willing to give up in exchange for more of the above:
- Battery life. I'm sure that there are exceptions, but most developers will do their work someplace they can hook up to power; you can't make a laptop with today's technologies that will run for a full day of hacking on a battery, so don't try. If my extra RAM, CPU and screen brightness that I need to be productive means that my battery is only good for 3 hours, so be it.
- Fast Graphics. Just enough graphics to run a modern desktop without stuttering. Intel integrated is fine.
- Custom Ubuntu builds. Custom breaks stuff. A lot of us will be reinstalling anyway with later versions of Ubuntu, Fedora or something like that. Ditto for binary-only drivers with licensing restrictions. The vanilla Ubuntu experience is pretty good, don't mess with it.
- Lots of software support. We can figure out our own software. If there were a simple known-good mini Linux install we could boot to that would allow us to test all of the hardware to make sure that problems we're having are or are not hardware-related, that's all that most of us need. If users don't know how OpenOffice works, redirect them to community support in a forum or a wiki.